Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Shigeru Ban has made a name for himself through his innovative cardboard and timber creations across the world, but this is the first time that he will have completed a project in the UK.
On the face of it, designing a family home sounds like a modest project in comparison to the architect’s previous pioneering disaster-relief housing, or his recent design for the Mount Fuji World Heritage Centre. However, given the property’s prominent location on London’s River Thames, sat just behind City Hall at Potters Fields, it’s a bold design, not least because it’s five storeys tall.
Dubbed the ‘pagoda in the park’, the property will stand at 21.5 metres (71 feet) high, and despite some concerns raised by Potters Fields Park Management Trust that the new building would potentially ‘impinge upon the openness of this area of the park’, the family home of property developer John Curran received the go-ahead from Southwark Council.
The Southwark Conservation Areas Advisory Group was in favour of the ‘clever’ proposal, with its ‘obvious Japanese influence’. The group said: ‘The panel thought the scheme an obvious contrast in scale, style and materials to the adjoining hotel building and felt the proposal could offer an interesting feature in the area.’
Ban is working with London-based architecture firm Waugh Thistleton on the project, as the firm is known for its expertise with cross-lamintated timber, believing it to be ‘the future of low-carbon construction’.
‘The construction of wooden architecture is fast, quiet and can minimise nuisance for the surrounding neighbourhood,’ reads the architect’s design statement, which was submitted with the planning application.
The design of this cutting-edge, timber house isn’t just about being low-impact, efficient and sustainable, it’s also taken into consideration the surrounding parkland and London’s more historical Tudor roots, according to the architects.
Just a stone’s throw from the iconic Tower Bridge, the three-bed home will include an office on the ground floor, spacious accommodation on the further storeys, topped with a terrace covered by a distinctive ‘wave profile’ roof made from lightweight timber and steel, which gives the building it’s ‘pagoda’ style.
To make the most of the views towards the parkland, floor-to-ceiling glazing has been incorporated into the design and a wall of glass blocks will complete the facade on the Tooley Street side of the property.